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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Schadenfreude Is A Dish Best Served Daily, Angels Fans

From today's White Sox THT, cause-of-much-handwringing Bobby Jenks rates a red light, and here's why:
Jenks's 2005 is a great story, but we're not convinced that the sequel will be a winner. This kid was waiver wire bait for a reason: his control in the minor leagues was Nook LaLoosh-bad, he had arm problems, homeboy never saw a hamburger he couldn't disappear, and he had a history of ridiculously immature antics too numerous and disgusting to list. Jenks is out of shape, has a history of severe control problems (on the field and off), and is being asked to step up in crucial game situations under tremendous pressure. It's a recipe for injury, and his hot hot heat doesn't change things.
If Bobby "Bill Stoneman Can Kiss My Ass" Jenks were to turn into a pile of Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the field, nobody would be happier than Mr. Stoneman himself -- or maybe that part of the Halosphere (i.e., all of it) who started gnawing their fingernails down to the quick once Turnbow and Jenks found homes elsewhere post-waivers.

While I'm thinking about it, try these grafs on for size:

When we looked at this team last year, we really missed the boat. Partly this was because we didn't see the cracks in Minnesota's foundation going as deeply as they did, partly it was because we didn't expect Chicago's defense to be as good as it was, partly it was because we didn't really predict the Chicago pitching to be so strong, but maybe a good part of our miscalculation was that we didn't predict that the 2005 squad would be so healthy. The 2005 Chicago White Sox were close to being one of the very best teams in terms of days lost to the DL, and of the injuries they did have, few were all that severe. Orlando Hernandez's injuries didn't put them into much of a bind because Brandon McCarthy was ready to play. The only situation that truly hurt their Win-Loss record was the loss of Frank Thomas for most of the year, but the White Sox brain trust knew not to expect too much from Big Hurt before the season started (see BP2006 for my essay, "Injury Accounting," which explains how the Win-Loss impact of an injury can be calculated).

So maybe the question to ask about the 2006 White Sox isn't "Can this pitching staff repeat?" or "Will the defense be awesome again?" but is instead something like, "Can these guys again avoid all those little injuries that rough up most teams?" Looking at this Team Health Report the tentative answer has to be "unlikely." The yellow and red warnings on Konerko and Thome are legitimate and if either player is injured next year it would dramatically sabotage this team's offense. Dye is not a good health bet, Podsednik is ailing and, let's be honest, pitchers get hurt.


Comments:
The Schadenfreude would peak with Pierzynski's penis falling off.
 
So in other words the article is saying they neglected to take the team's depth into account. The Angels were easy pickings for the Sox because the Angels had no one to pick up the slack went Colon went down.
 
Aren't all of those things the same things that the statheads didn't take into account with the 2002 Angels?
 
Scott -- I'm not sure whether you mean the Sox' depth or the Angels. The Angels' real problem wasn't Colon so much as the fact that the club couldn't survive Vlad going AWOL in the playoffs, neither Figgins, nor really any of the top four hitters, who were collectively miserable.
 
If it weren't for the unacceptable umpiring mistake, we'd have been up 2-0 on Chi. And as I heard someone point out, that would have left them needing to win 4 out of the next 5 to beat us.
 
This is another ridiculous BP article. It sounds like a pollyanna-ish hope for massive White Sox injuries--penned by a Cubs fan (or an Angels fan like the guy above who still cannot get over Pierzynski's heads-up baserunning). But it has little basis in reality.

For them to suggest that the White Sox did not suffer their fair share of injuries last year is complete fiction. Frank Thomas missed most of the year. Their top closer, Dustin Hermanson, had a ton of shoulder problems in the second half. Podsednik, their table-setter, was gimpy the entire second half--which accounted for his massive drop in SBs. Crede was out for stretches with back problems.

With regard to Jenks, last time I checked he was throwing 102 mph in Game 1 of the World Series. Sure, he came into camp overweight, but a RED LIGHT???

The fact is that BP hates the White Sox, always has, and always will. For instance, BP's forecast system, PECOTA, was WAY OFF last year in predictinfg the performance of White Sox starting pitching:

Pitcher 2005 PECOTA/Actual:
Mark Buehrle 4.47/3.12

Freddy Garcia 4.55/3.87

Jose Contreras 4.91/3.61

Jon Garland 5.05/3.50
 
If it weren't for the unacceptable umpiring mistake, we'd have been up 2-0 on Chi.

Really? The game was tied at that point. Were the Angels going to be awarded the game in the event of a tie after 9 innings?

And as I heard someone point out, that would have left them needing to win 4 out of the next 5 to beat us.

You needed someone else to point that fact out to you?
 
Geoff -- hahaha, very funny nom de plume -- not. Now on to the business at hand: had you read the article in its entirety, you would have seen that the author also noted the Sox' FO didn't trust Thomas to stay healthy and planned for him to go down. Furthermore, Konerko is a yellow for back trouble plus he'll have to share DH time with notable injury magnet Jim Thome. Podsednik is a red light for double hernia surgery. Jermaine Dye's healthy seasons are outnumbered by his unhealthy ones (just ask the A's). Vazquez was overworked as a youngun' in Montreal, thus his yellow. Jose Contreras has had more years with an ERA over 5.00 than below it, has a significant injury history, is over 30 and his true age remains a question. Finally, the comments on Jenks' arm and makeup remain open; maybe he has turned a corner in the Sox' organization, and if so, bully for him. But this is a team that looks awfully shaky on paper.
 
Rob, I just meant that the Sox had more depth than the Angels. As for Vlad's disappearence, I think the opposing pitchers had some affect there. Assuming Colon pitches two games a holds down the Sox scoring (which wouldn't have been a major feat, really), Vlad's lack of impact is reduced.

Thomas, the Sox did win the next three games which would have had the Angels at a 3-2 deficit and in a win or go home situation on foreign turf. Angels were going home, Pierzynski or not.
 
I just don't buy that it's all the Sox' pitching. He was hitting .333 against the Yankees but that was their tattered rotation; he injured his shoulder going into the postseason and had all but stopped hitting in the last week of the regular season. I will give you that he didn't do well against them in the regular season, though (.231 average in 13 AB).
 
Rob,

You stated with regard to the Sox that "this is a team that looks awfully shaky on paper." I assume the "shaky on paper" is a reference to injury risks. Maybe you're right.

But put down your Angels KOOL-AID and be objective for a moment.

But I'd also take a look at Anaheim. Their best player (and really only consistent hitter), Vlad, looked like a wreck in the ACLS, and their best pitcher, Colon, is a perennial injury/weight risk. Looks equally "shaky on paper" to me.
 
There was no question at the beginning of the season that the Angels' offense was tenuous outside of Vlad; not enough power, and too many contact hitters for my taste. Further, of the 2005 squad that won it all, four starting players and three members of the rotation will be returning to their age 30 or beyond seasons. That's a lot of aging meat, with not a lot of depth in the farm to replace them.

Contrast that with the Angels, who have been throwing out hallucinatory trade demands from the Red Sox, among other teams, for the likes of Brandon Wood (SS), Casey Kotchman (1B), Howie Kendrick (2B), and Dallas McPherson (3B), not to mention Jeff Mathis (C). That's an entire new starting infield. The Angels unloaded Steve Finley, moved Darin Erstad to center -- where he will be replaced by Chone Figgins if he falls. Jeff Mathis replaces Bengie Molina. Casey Kotchman replaces Erstad at first. The team got younger, cheaper, and better offensively at three positions, and if something happens to Adam Kennedy, could make that a fourth with a callup of Howie Kendrick. Meantime, the Sox haven't done that much to change their situation outside of their pitching, and even then, Javier Vazquez looks like an injury risk thanks to overuse at Montreal. (Not saying that will happen for sure, but.) The Angels are in a much better situation so far as that's concerned.

Combine all the yellow and red lights on the Chisox with the fact that the Sox outpaced their pythagorean winning percentage in the regular season, and you have a good shot at a really significant regression.
 
Rob,

Fair enough. As an Angels fan you should know something about "regression to the mean" (e.g., 2003).

Really though, BP's so-called "injury analysis" relies on an awful worst-case scenario. It really sounds like typical Cub fan "pie in the sky."

Given BP's ridiculously inaccurate PECOTA forecast of White Sox pitching last year (which was comically WAY OFF--see my post above), I would not trust anything they say.
 
One more thing, Rob, regarding the wonderful Angels farm system. No doubt that Wood and Kendrick look like superstars in the waiting.

But please lay off the Angels KOOL-AID when it comes to Kotchman, McPherson, and Mathis. Mathis has already been downgraded the past year by many scouts. Kotchman looks like a poor-man's Mark Grace. (Granted, he'll probably be an upgrade over Erstad, who is a crappy, unproductive hitter). McPherson--well who knows with his injury history. He's definitely a butcher defensively. Offensively, he could eventually emerge as a topslugger; we'll see. He also could be a left-handed Rob Deer.
 
Jeez, Blum, try and find another metaphor, wouldja? That Kool-Aid thing is beyond tired. And as for your ill-informed disparagement of the Angels farmhands --

Kotchman SLG, age 22 season: .484, 126 AB
Konerko SLG, age 22 season: .332, 217 AB

Even if Kotchman does turn into Mark Grace -- which, by the way, is kind of unlikely to the extent that Grace wasn't even in the majors until his age 24 season -- that's still got a lot of value. Grace racked up seven seasons of 40+ VORP with the Cubs, mainly by virtue of his steady, near-.400 OBP.

WRT McPherson, Rob Deer he might be, but as I showed earlier, D-Mac's K rate took a steep dive last year, and that was with a significant injury hobbling his development. It's way too early to write him off offensively just yet. As for his defense -- his DT card shows he has just-around-average defensive skills, pretty good for a rookie.

As for Mathis, it's true he's not likely to be the next Jason Veritek, but he's far from being a bust; Baseball America ranked him fourth overall in the Angels system. Nobody expects him to do well offensively this year; it's pretty much conceded his bat lags behind his defense, and may never catch up. But considering what he was expected to become, and the fact that the only three teams in the majors with depth in catching are the Dodgers, Braves, and Angels, it's not the worst problem in the world to have, either.
 
Rob,

OK, put down your Halo crack pipe.

Re McPherson's "DT card": wow, you are grasping for straws. Why don't you try relying on the scouting reports for defense? He's certainly no Joe Crede with the leather. I see DH in his future.

By the way, with regard to Kotchman, I think I said a "Poor man's" Mark Grace. So maybe Kotchman is the next Dave Bergman.
 
ouch, the metaphors are flying high today.

The injury report is a fair assessment of the W.Sox system. There's no point being offended by this.

According to this year's PECOTA projections, the top 5 starters for the W.Sox are all ranked within the top 54 pitchers in baseball by VORP. That is simply incredible. You cannot simply focus on that ERA.
 
On Mathis, did you see what Sickels wrote in his 2006 prospect book? Pretty much the worst thing he said is that Mathis isn't the next Carlton Fisk that Sickels previosuly had thought he might be.
 
Wow, using actual impartial numbers to back up my assessment of his defensive capabilities? Next you'll be disparaging D-Mac's offensive abilities with the ol' heart-and-soul arguments. I noticed you conveniently ignored the numerical argument I made with the Kotchman-vs-Konerko comparison I made. Kotchman's upside is something like Todd Helton minus the thin air in Colorado; his downside is Mark Grace and very likely better than that, and better than Paulie 'Nerko.
 
Somehow bringing Paulie's stats when he was 22 years old seems entirely irrelevant to what he did several years later (2005). Over the past several years Paulie has gone from an "iffy" prospect to a really fine all around ball player and a clutch hitter (What, we didn't see enough big game homers out of him last year?). The bottom line is the Sox won the WS last year and have a better club this year. Yes, injuries can hit anyone, anytime but basically, the Sox have a nice club.
 
And by the way, If Casey K. is better than Paulie maybe he should, you know, actually do it on the field (and not just in your imagination). Then you can talk, but until then its just mental masturbation on your part...
 
Ah, Markie, it's called prospect evaluation. Lining up players according to what they do at a particular age is the key to determining how good they are and likely will be. Maybe you can't get your little partisan head around that. Deal.
 
P.S.: nobody said Kotchman would be as good this year as Konerko. But all things considered, betcha in a year or two he will be.
 
Oh, I thought we were talking about who is going to go along way in 2006; not "prospects" in a year, or two, or three, or maybe never.

By the way, where are the prospects that Kenny Williams traded for Freddy Garcia and where are they now?. One's a fair "prospect" in center field for Seattle, and the other, last I saw, was a second string catcher being dropped by the Padres.

Again, making an argument for 2006 on what a prospect "I betcha" might do in a couple of years doesn't quite stand up to a guy who has done it and 2005, and is in his prime. Banking on the performance of lots of prospects as if they are all going to come through is just lots of wishful thinking.
 
... and has just posted a career year in a walk year. R-e-g-r-e-s-s-i-o-n.
 
Whoa, folks, someone needs to get a better understanding of "regression to the mean". Based on the implication of the previous blog, it would be hard to imagine player development whereby someone in their late twenties might have two or more years where their stats are better than their early twenties.

The fallacy of most blog happy stats is in the attempt to apply normative aggregate measures to individuals. This is the same fallacy of flipping a coin. On any one flip the chance of heads is 50%, irrespective of the result of the previous or subsequent flip. On the other hand, the chances of heads coming up about 50 times out of a 100 are pretty good.

Similarly, in baseball when a large amount of data is aggregated, such as some of the current interesting stuff on what kind of batters you place 1 through 9 in your batting order is relevant to how one might fill out a batting order, or even to use as a normative measuring stick to assess any team's batting order. However, when you start making predictions about what's going to happen to a particular player in a particular year, especially one in that nice 26 to 31 year old zone, you are putting forward a fallacious argument.

For individual players you are better of looking at their own history (for example, a pitcher who has poor mechanics and a history of injury).

So I would keep your statistics in area of aggregate data and quit trying to "predict" what will happen to individual player's in the coming year (as these predictions typically just happen to reflect your team loyalty).

Hey, there's nothing wrong with just being a fan and rooting for your club. No need to try to use statistics improperly (as a means of predicting to a sample size of one) to support your rooting for your team. The Angels are good and so are the Sox. The Angels bats went dead cold against the Sox last October. Who knows about this October? That's why they play the games.
 
Whoa, folks, someone needs to get a better understanding of "regression to the mean". Based on the implication of the previous blog, it would be hard to imagine player development whereby someone in their late twenties might have two or more years where their stats are better than their early twenties.

The fallacy of most blog happy stats is in the attempt to apply normative aggregate measures to individuals. This is the same fallacy of flipping a coin. On any one flip the chance of heads is 50%, irrespective of the result of the previous or subsequent flip. On the other hand, the chances of heads coming up about 50 times out of a 100 are pretty good.

Similarly, in baseball when a large amount of data is aggregated, such as some of the current interesting stuff on what kind of batters you place 1 through 9 in your batting order is relevant to how one might fill out a batting order, or even to use as a normative measuring stick to assess any team's batting order. However, when you start making predictions about what's going to happen to a particular player in a particular year, especially one in that nice 26 to 31 year old zone, you are putting forward a fallacious argument.

For individual players you are better of looking at their own history (for example, a pitcher who has poor mechanics and a history of injury).

So I would keep your statistics in area of aggregate data and quit trying to "predict" what will happen to individual player's in the coming year (as these predictions typically just happen to reflect your team loyalty).

Hey, there's nothing wrong with just being a fan and rooting for your club. No need to try to use statistics improperly (as a means of predicting to a sample size of one) to support your rooting for your team. The Angels are good and so are the Sox. The Angels bats went dead cold against the Sox last October. Who knows about this October? That's why they play the games.
 
So I would keep your statistics in area of aggregate data and quit trying to "predict" what will happen to individual player's in the coming year (as these predictions typically just happen to reflect your team loyalty).

Right, and the fact that he's about to play his age 30 season has nothing to do with this. Look, PECOTA thinks he's in for a 27.1 VORP season, roughly .278/.367/.502, with 30-ish home runs. That's hardly a bad season -- and I'm not saying it is, not by any stretch -- but it's ridiculous to chalk all this up to simple bias. I'm not the only one who thinks Konerko will decline, and Kotchman will advance.
 
I agree with you in regards to Casey K. He's a young, developing major league player in an upward arc. Therefore, a prediction that says a good young prospect who has had some success already at the major league level has a good chance of having a better year is a fairly safe prediction.

However, to assume that Paulie K is either past his prime or "regresses to his personal mean" is not valid based on:

a) his age which is "prime",
b) nothing in his physical history that indicates detioriation,
c) enough "Paulie K. sample prime years" to assume that last year was not his "prime mean". Again, too small of a sample, one guy's past couple of years, to assume any kind of regression.

There is just as much validity to say that Casey K. is due for a "sophmore slump" as there is to assume that Paulie K's 2005 stats were not, in fact, his prime career "mean" performance.

Again, applying normative/aggregate statistics to individual samples in individual years is a very poor use of statistics (refer back to the stats on one coin flip).

Lastly, just because "lots of people say so" doesn't make anything more or less likely to be, in fact, true.
 
Last comment,

Baseball is a cool game because of all the statistical intricacies. Watching the Sox last year I saw that they were repeatedly great at keeping the pressure on and, therefore, winning better than 65% of 1 and 2 run games. This played out well in October (I believe that in 2005 they were in about 105 1 or 2 run games, winning about 68). Is this done by one guy, or susceptible to easy statistical interpretation? I don't think so. I think predicting a baseball season is like predicting the weather. In the South it will be warmer than in the North. However, like predicting exactly what next week's weather will be in most places holds too many variables for consistently accurate prediction. Same with baseball, strange stuff happens, eveybody on a team has a good year at once, or several get injured and others have a bad year. What does count is the quality of the organization to assess talent, acquire talent, develop talent, coach talent, manage talent, and, in the end make it all blend together. I think currently in the American League the Angels and the Sox are the two best at this, followed closely by the likes of Cleveland (nice rebuilding job in a few short years), Minnesota (just too low of a payroll to keep it going), the Yankees (a big payroll that makes up for developmental shortcomings), and the Red Sox (although I have a feeling their pitching is just a shadow of 2 years ago, combined with their "station to station" offense, is way less than what is necessary to win in 2006).

The only thing I know for sure is that the beer at the ballpark is cold and after several of them the true beauty of the game is revealed.

Good night and god bless...
 

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